Tiger Woods optimistic despite missing cut at Congressional
Australian Oliver Goss surges into share of lead in second event as professional
Tiger Woods hits his second shot on the first hole during the second round of the Quicken Loans National golf tournament at Congressional Country Club on Friday.
A rusty Tiger Woods made an early exit from the Quicken Loans National in Bethesda, Maryland on Friday when he missed the cut in his first tournament in three months, but expressed optimism over his game’s progress.
Woods, who had been sidelined since March after having surgery to repair a pinched nerve in his back, struggled with his driving and short game on a tough Congressional Country Club layout on the way to a four-over-par 75 in the second round.
That left the former world number one at seven-over 149, and well outside the projected cutline of three over.
Woods, whose charity foundation benefits from the PGA Tour event, had opted to return to the circuit this week to give himself competitive preparation for next month’s British Open at Hoylake, the third Major of the year.
“I am really encouraged by what happened this week,” an upbeat Woods told reporters after a round that included just three birdies, five bogeys and a double.
“I missed the cut by four shots, that’s a lot, but what I was able to do physically and the speed I had and the distance I was hitting the golf ball again, I hadn’t done that in a very long time.
“I needed to get back into competitive feel . . . to hit shots and shake some stuff off and see how things were. I’ve had no setbacks. I got my feel for playing tournament golf.”
Woods headed into Friday’s second round facing an uphill battle to make the cut after opening with a 74 and he lost further ground when he double-bogeyed the fifth before dropping another shot at the eighth.
He briefly raised hopes of conjuring a stirring fightback as he drained a 26-foot birdie putt at the ninth, then followed with a 12-footer at the par-three 10th.
However Woods continued to miss fairways off the tee and, with the lush rough at Congressional posing all sorts of problems for recovery shots, he went on to bogey four straight holes from the the 11th.
Though he birdied the par-five 16th after reaching the green in two and two-putting, he lipped out a birdie attempt from just four feet at the 17th before parring the last.
“I made a ton of simple little mistakes, misjudging things and missing the ball on the wrong sides, not being able to get up and down on simple shots,” said the 14-times Major winner.
“The thing I was worried about the most was hitting driver, and I roasted it, the last two days I hit it really well. The short game was off.
“As I said, I made so many little mistakes this week, but that is something I can rectify, and get that fixed for the British (Open).”
Woods has been increasingly plagued by injuries in recent seasons as the wear and tear of years on the tour have begun to take a toll.
He failed to finish the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens in early March, quitting after 13 holes in his final round, then tweaked his back again on the last day of the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami just one week later.
Woods pulled out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a key lead-up tournament he has won eight times, in the hope that he could play at the Masters before he opted to undergo surgery on March 31st.
He ended up missing the Masters, in April, and the US Open at Pinehurst earlier this month but will compete at Hoylake in the British Open from July 17th-20th.
Meanwhile, Australian Oliver Goss surged into a four-way tie for the lead in just his second PGA Tour event as a professional.
Tthe 20-year-old scrambled superbly as he piled up five birdies to card a flawless five-under-par 66.
Goss was runner-up at last year’s US Amateur Championship, before finishing low amateur at this year’s Masters.
He missed the cut at last week’s Travelers Championship in his pro debut, but brought much better form to storied Congressional in leafy Bethesda just outside Washington DC.
Goss posted a six-under total of 136 to end the round level with fellow Australian Marc Leishman (66) and Americans Patrick Reed (68) and Ricky Barnes (69).
Goss hit only four of 14 fairways on Friday but used his recovery skills to the full as he reached 14 of 18 greens in regulation.
“I don’t think I hit one fairway until the 11th . . . but I scrambled my way pretty good today,” he said.
“I was able to get it up and down (for par) every time I missed the green.
“It’s only my second week as a pro and being on the top of the leaderboard, it just gives you a boost of confidence.
“I didn’t really have too many expectations. After last week, I was a little bit disappointed but I came here pretty fresh and open-minded. And I’m on top of the leaderboard. I couldn’t be more pleased.”
Reed, who has been quiet since winning the WGC Cadillac Championship in Miami in March, finished strongly with three birdies in his final five holes.
“Yesterday I hit a lot of fairways which allowed me to attack the greens but today the tee shots weren’t there so I was playing a lot out of the rough (and) I had to make some smart decisions on key holes,” said Reed.
He made headlines after his WGC victory when he said he belonged among the top five players in the world.
He said he was subsequently distracted, not by the reaction to his comments, but by the May birth of his first child with wife Justine.